The thought of critiquing another poets work leaves me shaking in my boots. I think this fear keeps many of us from taking advantage of the fantastic forums and the tools provided to help us hone our craft. Arron Shilling is a popular poet who praises Facial Expressions, and I had the opportunity to question him in regard to the community, and perhaps, for those of us who fear the idea of “critique”, the opportunity to learn how we, ourselves can benefit.
What benefit does Facial Expression provide for you in regards to your work?
The main benefit is community. Writing poetry can be a lonely business and FEPC provides a fantastic comradery and support system as well as a qualified audience, who are always prepared to give you their time, and valued input.
Has anyone, in your opinion, crossed any lines in regards to the critique you have received? (Many folks FEAR this, so I thought it would be nice to let them know the waters are worth venturing into!)
For me personally there isn’t really a line to cross outside of the parameters of common courtesy and regular manners which is all that is required on FEPC and is strictly adhered to. Also due to the environment i.e friendly and supportive, anything other than sensible critique would not be tolerated or at least it would be pointed out, but in order to grow we should all have broad shoulders.
What made you seek out a critique group…were you looking for something in particular, and if so, has Facial Expressions provided that to you?
Once again I was looking for community and I came into contact with Julie Watkins and Luke Pratter via the excellent dVerse Poets Pub and they invited me to join the circle which I considered an honour, as Luke and Julie are fine poets and I knew I could learn a lot from them and their fellows.
What would be considered a typical critique. What type of advice and suggestions can new members anticipate?
I don’t think there is really anything you could call a typical critique. Every critique is as diverse as the various authors and writers. This for me is one of the intrinsic elements of FEPC. We all come from different places, geographically, philosophically and academically, and there is no fear in expressing ourselves either poetically or critically.
Do you have any advice for someone new to the group? Suggestions for engagement, so to speak?
New members can anticipate a variety of comments from a variety of people. All expressed in a friendly and helpful manner and all aimed at hopefully improving a given piece. In terms of engagement I would say to a new member to be prepared to accept praise and helpful criticism and never to be too precious or hold back on their own opinions when critiquing. It is essential for new members to join in and actively critique others.
Arron is a 35 year old artist/surrealist. He has an academic background in philosophy, psychology and art and truly believes that artistic self-expression is key to personal growth and happiness. In his own words, “Poetry gives my life meaning. Communicating with fellow poets/artists is essential to expanding one’s own practice. I read extensively. I love words and I love to write.”
To check out Arron’s fantastic work visit him at Zero Summer http://tom-eliot.blogspot.com/